Friday, January 25, 2008

SA faces national power emergency

I've just written a story ( with fellow-journalist Christelle Du Toit) for ITWeb Online which looks at the power crisis SA faces and the impact this will have on economic growth, industrial investment (there is moratorium on new big projects), ICT investment ( a key development driver) and usage by companies and individuals.

The one issue the article doesn't deal with is the impact the power crisis will have on publishing ( both print and online) as that was not within the scope of the story brief.

But as a journalist for an online publication, children's book writer and blogger, I am painfully aware that the impact on these sub-sectors could potentially be damaging.

Would companies be as eager to invest in online media when there is a power crisis as they were when the situation was normal?

Can we, as good corporate citizens even contemplate producing media that require high electricity usage in a time when every voltage counts?

Already, there is a discussion on Biz-Community as to whether electrified billboards should be be shut down. The impact, if companies choose to shut these media down is that less media ( of that nature will be produced, and there will be less work for the people who create them).

I can also see some companies evaluate what activities are essential in order to assist with the power saving initiatives.

As their projected revenues are downscaled, I also see some of them (gasp!) retrenching.

Contract workers, including freelance writers, will also feel the crunch. And so will industries where materials developers or any kind are considered to be doing non-core work.

And as a parent, I can also see myself scaling down on buying new books for Baby as personal finances become tighter.

Shutting all mines

This morning's announcement by Public Enterprise Minister Alec Erwin that SA will shut down ALL the mines for two weeks ( max. 6 weeks) left me shell-shocked.

I think this, in addition to the power cuts will have a devastating effect on SA's economic growth ( despite what they said in the media statement).

Within a month, we've gone from an economic powerhouse where work opportunities were growing and a good writer could count on landing a number of good writing projects to a completely new world where, Moody's reports "Investors in full flight" - Weekly SA economic commentary*

At community level, I am concerned about what impact the temporary closing of mines will have friends and relatives at home in Phokeng, where many of SA's platinum mines are based. The town's economy is highly dependent on the mines.

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